The Appalshop Archive was formally established in 2002 to safeguard and improve access to media created by Appalshop producers since the organization’s founding in 1969. Our core mission is to preserve and make accessible the creative works and extraordinary history of this rural-based media arts center located in the Appalachian region. In addition to its collection of institutional materials dating from 1969 to the present, the Archive cares for a growing number of donated materials that help enrich understanding of the region.
In addition to the master elements for Appalshop’s 100+ feature documentaries, our extensive media collection includes thousands of hours of production film, videotape, audio recordings as well as photography and supporting materials that portray a multifaceted view of life and history in central Appalachia. Appalshop producers have documented some of the most vital individuals in the region including ballad collector John Jacob Niles, authors James Still & Harriette Simpson Arnow, tradition bearers such as renowned storytellers Ray Hicks & Sheila Kay Adams, and musicians Ralph Stanley & Jean Ritchie. In addition to documentation of these individuals, Appalshop’s audiovisual records span a wide range of practices of community institutions such as the Old Regular Baptist Church, and address important social topics like stripmining, labor organizing, in-and-out migration, and Appalachian representation in American popular culture. The Archive also houses several works of regional folk art, such as master chairmaker Chester Cornett’s 8-legged rocker, whose construction was documented in the Appalshop film Hand Carved.
In addition to our core collection of material created through the activities of Appalshop, the Archive has accepted donations of local media and other items of regional significance. These include: the William R. “Pictureman” Mullins collection of photo negatives taken by a self-taught studio photographer from circa 1935-1955; a collection of amateur 16mm films shot in the 1940’s and 1950’s, originating from Pineville, Kentucky; and the Mountain Community Television collection, comprised of 70’s-era cable access programs that were produced and broadcast in the coal community of Wise County, Virginia and beyond.